Today is the day to remember the Lusitania.
If there hadn’t been a Titanic, you’d know all about the Lusitania. It sank 100 years ago today, courtesy of a torpedo, and if the Titanic had missed that iceberg three years earlier, Lusitania would have been the word by which all cruise-ship disasters at sea would be measured.
There’s surely nobody left old enough to remember the Lusitania’s demise.
Cunard, at 175, is…and with good reason. The Lusitania was the first of 22 Cunard ships that were sunk during World War I, by then just a year old. Today, 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale in Ireland, near Cobh, Cunard’s Queen Victoria will hover over the approximate spot where the Lusitania went down. There will be floral tributes. Its whistles will sound. Chances are the Queen Victoria will linger for 18 minutes, because that’s how long it took for the old ship to disappear into the depths at 10 minutes past two that afternoon.
At the time, it was apparently the most famous ship in the world, heading from Liverpool to New York. Along with sister ship Mauritania, this was the first of what were called “floating palaces.” Many of the passengers were from the Liverpool area, Cunard’s original home. A church service and minute of silence were planned, along with a walk past the Lusitania’s propeller.
On the Queen Mary, in the midst of a 7-day memorial cruise, there is a Lusitania exhibition, assembled by Eric Sauder, who has dived onto the wreck and who was once a tour guide on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Sauder has written two books on the ship, the release of the second to coincide with today’s anniversary.
David Dingle, CEO of Cunard Line, provided some context for the ship: “Her story was also one of triumph in the technical achievement of her construction and her glittering career from 1907 until the outbreak of war.”
That career began five years before the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage in April 1912. Cobh was the last port before both ships crossed the ocean on the trip to New York. On the Titanic, 1,517 people perished. On the Lusitania, 1,190 perished.
But the Titanic was first. As such, its name is forever memorialized and Lusitania’s is not. She is remembered only on anniversaries like today.
In the news…
• Carnival's brands donate $200,000 to Nepal earthquake relief
• All-inclusive suite class coming to Royal Caribbean in 2016 [Travel Weekly]
• Freestyle Choice freebies for Norwegian cruisers who book this month
• Mexico building a cruise home port southwest of Phoenix [Arizona Republic]